Monday, January 14, 2008

A Little Off Target

Over the last few weeks, in the post-Christmas clean-up, I have run into a few return policies that I take issue with. A bad return policy eats at my core - I hate the feeling of a good and loyal customer not treated as such.

This one takes the cake. My problem is with Target, and I am even more devastated by their utter lack of customer service and loyalty to their loyal customers because I do LOVE (and I mean love) Target. But, their return policies are getting worse and worse... they are just off target in this respect. Even if they generally need a tight return policy, they really should have a more flexible one for their loyal customers who register for wedding or baby gifts at their store.

A friend of mine was pregnant last year and was really frustrated at their return policies even then. But still...people love baby shopping at Target, so I setup a registry there. However, their policies have regressed in the last 9 months. They've gotten even worse, which was barely possible. I've since taken down my registry. I'd like to beg people to NOT buy me gifts at Target.

First, I was surprised to learn that if someone gives you a gift with the gift receipt, you can only get store credit back, not cash. Granted, I spend plenty of money there so it isn't the end of the world, but it's the principle of the matter. If you have a receipt, and the item is clearly unused, you should get cash. I just think that's really annoying, although it wasn't enough to make me cancel my registry.

Returns without a receipt are the problem. If you don't have a receipt, you can make two returns per year (for the whole store, not per department), and each return can not be more than $20. Per year. It does not matter one bit to them if you have a registry, or if the item was on your registry. I received two of the same crib mirror, which was an item on my registry. I didn't get the gift receipt for either gift. It doesn't matter one bit to Target that the item was on my registry (and marked as fulfilled).

To make matters worse, the woman at the customer service counter was incredibly rude to me, which was absolutely undeserved. I wasn't being rude and hadn't raised my voice. I was confused, since this policy is different than when my friend was returning things 9 months ago, so I was trying to make sure I understood correctly... and she was just very, very rude to me. Hubs and I just left. I'll figure out if I want to keep my second crib mirror or return it (one of my two per year!) later.

A customer who brings in other customers should be treated like gold. This is a marketing golden ticket - when you can get customers or donors to get other customers or donors for you. It's the ideal scenario. If you have a registry somewhere, you are bringing them business, and we all know that shoppers will almost always buy more than they came in for. They are treating their "registry customers" entirely wrong. They need to make the process smooth and easy, and make these people feel appreciated for registering their. It's especially tricky because when someone is engaged or pregnant, they've got a lot on their plate already... we really don't need this hassle. Do they really want to mess with my hormones right now? That horrible customer service lady is just lucky that I didn't start crying right there on the spot. Running out of milk or bananas makes me cry right now, so that wouldn't be a long shot.

In the end, I actually couldn't figure out how to cancel a registry (they don't make it easy, which I wasn't too surprised about), but I took all the items out of it. I will not encourage any more friends or family to buy me any baby items there... in fact, I'd rather they didn't (especially if there is no gift receipt!).

In some ways, I think it sounds horrible...as if you are planning on returning the gifts people give you. It's not that (although the option is nice!) as much as it's so easy to get duplicate items! I've received two of the exact same bouncy seats, ear thermometers, crib mirrors, and a particularly cute sleeper. It's not that I don't want them, I just don't need two! But, I do want to be sure that my friends' money isn't wasted and that I can get an equally needed and desired item...just one I don't currently have. Also, I am likely going to have two or three more baby showers, so we'll see what duplicates are to come!

My advice: don't register at Target, and encourage other people not to register at Target. AND, if you love your friend, always include a receipt or gift receipt.

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